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C-SPAN Showcases Ida McKinley, Canton Sites on June 10

By Rich Heldenfels Published: May 24, 2013

It's part of a series on First Ladies, which you can read more about here. The link will take you to the McKinley page. And here's the word from the museum:

In a first-of-its-kind project for television, C-SPAN is teaming up with the White House Historical Association  for a new, two-season original series: “First Ladies: Influence and Image,” examining the private lives of the first ladies and their years in the White House.   On June 10th, “First Ladies: Influence and Image” will tell the story of Ida McKinley who served in the role of first lady from 1898 to 1901 as the last program of the first series.  C-Span visited the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum and the National First Ladies Library in Canton.

The 90-minute program will air live Monday, June 10 at 9pm ET on C-SPAN and C-SPAN 3 , C-SPAN Radio, and via livestreaming on
The C-SPAN series will examine:
·         the First Ladies’ White House years
·         the interests they championed
·         their policy influences on the presidents
·         their stewardship of the White House
·         their approach to private and public life
Facts About Ida McKinley
·         Ida and her sister Mary went on a Grand Tour of Europe in 1869, visiting several countries and writing regular letters home to describe her experiences for her parents.  The trip cost $2000 for each girl.
·         Ida’s grandfather John Saxton founded The Repository, one of the oldest continuously published newspapers in Ohio.
·         During her lifetime, Ida crocheted an estimated 4000 pairs of slippers that she donated to local charities.
·         Ida’s favorite color was blue.  Most of her gowns have a touch of blue on them, even when it seems out of place with the overall design.
·         William and Ida McKinley’s wedding was one of the largest social events in Canton’s history with 750 guests, including Governor Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy.
·         The McKinleys had two daughters – Katherine (“Katie”) and Ida.  Both children died young.  Katie was 3 ½ and Ida was 4 months old.  The McKinleys had no other children.
·         Ida was a semi-invalid for most of her adult life.  She did attend some official White House functions, but often held a bouquet of flowers to avoid shaking hands.
·         Ida loved to spend time in the White House conservatory, among the plants and flowers.  In 1902 McKinley’s successor Teddy Roosevelt supervised the construction of The West Wing, and the conservatory was torn down.
·         During their White House years, the press agreed not to mention Ida’s health problems.
·         President McKinley broke White House protocol by seating Ida next to him at official dinners, in case she needed him during the lengthy meal.  When she had a seizure, he reportedly preserved her dignity by placing a handkerchief over her head until the seizure ended.
·         After the President’s death, Ida rarely left her home on North Market Avenue.  She did regularly visit the Werts Receiving Vault at West Lawn Cemetery where McKinley was temporarily laid to rest.  She attended the cornerstone laying ceremony for the McKinley National Memorial in 1905.
·         Ida died on May 26, 1907.  Since the Memorial was not yet completed, she was laid to rest with her husband in the Werts Receiving Vault.  After the dedication took place, McKinley, Ida, and their two young daughters were removed from West Lawn Cemetery and placed in the McKinley National Memorial in October 1907.
Mark Farkas, Peabody Award winning producer for C-SPAN, is the Executive Producer for the series. “These women have many fascinating stories to tell – that not only reveal their personal challenges, accomplishments, and failures, but also provide a window into our nation’s history and the trajectory of women in our society,” Farkas said.  “From Martha Washington to Michelle Obama, the role of First Lady continues to evolve.”
First Lady Michelle Obama in a 2010 interview with C-SPAN observed this about the role:
“I think every First Lady brings their unique perspective to this job.  If you didn’t, you couldn’t live through it. … I try to bring a little bit of Michelle Obama into this but at the same time respecting and valuing the tradition that is America's.”
“The association is pleased to once again partner with C-SPAN to explore the fascinating world of First Ladies --- their lives, the times in which they lived, and their impact on our nation, “ said WHHA president Neil W. Horstman.
Four nationally-known historians are serving as advisors for the project:
·         Richard Norton Smith -- Presidential historian at George Mason University and former
head of five presidential libraries. He is a regular advisor to C-SPAN on history-related
programming, including most recently C-SPAN’s feature documentary series “The
·         Edith Mayo – Curator emeritus in political history at the Smithsonian's National Museum
of American History. Her books include First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image and
The Smithsonian's Book of First Ladies.
·         Rosalyn Terborg-Penn – Historian and author, focusing on 19th and 20th century African
American history and American women's history. Her books include African American
Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920. She is University Professor Emerita,
Morgan State University.
·         William Seale – Historian and editor of White House History, the award-winning journal of the White House Historical Association. Author of The President’s House and other
books about American history and architecture.

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